Starry forward leaving Jazz to join former college coach with Celtics
BOSTON — Gordon Hayward and Brad Stevens came within a whisker of winning an NCAA championship together at Indiana’s Butler University.
Now they are reuniting to try for an NBA title.
Hayward, the top remaining free agent in this summer’s class, announced via an essay on The Players’ Tribune website on Tuesday that he is leaving the Utah Jazz after seven seasons to sign with the Boston Celtics — coached by Stevens.
“This was a life-changing decision for me and my family, and something we took really seriously,” Hayward wrote.
“And from the very start of this process, one thing stood out as important: I knew that I wanted the fans and the organizations to hear my decision directly from me.
“After seven years in Utah, I have decided to join the Boston Celtics.”
A source with knowledge of the negotiations said Hayward agreed to a four-year contract, the last of those years being a player option, with a total value of around $128 million.
The source spoke to Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the deal cannot be completed before the league’s moratorium ends on Thursday.
It was a decision that Hayward said he agonized over, and he said he was impressed by the pitches — albeit unsuccessful — that Miami and Utah made for him over the last few days.
But his ties to Stevens, and the memories of how close they were to a title, weighed very heavily on his mind throughout this process.
This was a lifechanging decision for me and my family, and something we took really seriously.” Gordon Hayward
Butler went to the NCAA championship game in backto-back seasons under Stevens in 2010 and 2011, losing to Duke and Connecticut.
In the 2010 game, Hayward’s desperation shot to win the title from midcourt narrowly missed as time expired and Duke won 61-59.
From there, Hayward went to the NBA. Not long afterward, Stevens followed. And now, they’re together again.
“That unfinished business